Discussion:What is TaxAlmanac missing?

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Discussion Forum Index --> Tax Questions --> What is TaxAlmanac missing?


Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 19, 2007
TaxAlmanac seems to be working fairly well as a place to come to ask questions and discuss issues with your peers. However, it could be so much more. Many of you use books, other websites, and products for your tax research needs. My question to you now is What does TaxAlmanac need in order to meet more or all of your research needs? What's missing? Content? Organization?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
The orginization thing could help a lot.

Right now most people see it only for the discussion forums - actually they see it a "get my tax question answered" forum - they don't care for the discussion as much as want an answer.

Only about 10% of the people here seem to use the 'research resources', either because they don't know how (not the fault of this website, just that they don't know how to do their own research - they like to use RIA or CCH or the IRS website and call that 'research').

Only about 5% of the people here know how to use the search field. This causes 'excess redundant duplicity, again and again' in the questions asked on the tax question forum.


What people need is really a course in how to do research.

Pegoo (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
How about a private board for preparers to discuss issues and ideas that should not really be public?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
This course would include a discussion of the "substantial authority" sources, and how to access them (how to search them); then the lesser authorities, and how to search them.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
I Like Pegoo's suggestion - that forum MUST require a completed profile in order to enter/view/post. No lurkers allowed there.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
Tim: did you have in mind licensing content from other providers to place here for access, or more self-created content (such as articles at this site now)?

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 19, 2007
CrowJD:

At this point I'm just looking for what content is needed, if in fact it is content. Where that content comes from can be looked into after that.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 19, 2007
Well, Tim, I hate to say it, but I just don't see that this can become the kind of clearinghouse that may be your mission. One problem already is that some folks see this as a substitute for research. C'mon. Yes, there is info here, but that's not real research out of a BNA/RIA/CCH type product. And nothing will ever replace those for that work. The organization is fairly weird. I've been here a long time, and when I venture off the discussion pages, I don't know how to find most of what's here. I did recently find the articles section, and plan to re-write the choice of entity part, with your permission, when I have time. And maybe a few others re: s corps, reasonable comp...things that I'm really comfortable with and knowledgeable about. I, too, concur that the profile should be mandatory, tho' folks can lie and say whatever they want...but it might minimize the one-timers, and would help us know who's asking a bit better.

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 19, 2007
JR1:

I appreciate the candor in your reply and I am finding this a good discussion.

Correct me if I am wrong, but it seems to me that people perform different "levels" of research. There are times when an in-depth search through BNA/RIA/CCH type product is needed, but there is also a time when a search through the IRS website or a copy of QuickFinder can find the answer you're looking for. There are some people who always like to perform the heavy searches, and there are those that just can't afford to purchase subscriptions to those materials and get by with less. I don't think that TaxAlmanac is attempting to knock RIA/CCH out of business just yet, but I do think it could be doing a better job of serving preparers attempting to find answers at the other end of the research spectrum.

You state that the organization is "weird". I guess that's what happens when you put a product manager with a software engineering background in charge of organizing tax research materials. I am pleading with you, all of you, to help me or tell me how to make it better. You won't hurt my feelings. Really.

Maybe there's a way in which we can integrate "related links" to subject materials within the discussions. I think that TA has more primary materials than most of the forum participants are aware of. As far as editing articles - PLEASE DO! That's the whole concept behind TaxAlmanac. You do not need my permission. The only thing we don't allow users to edit are the Code and Regs, and those are protected from edits anyway.

As far as mandatory profiles and who can view/participate in the forums, that's a good subject too, one that I am fine with discussing again, but I'd like to keep this topic to just what TA needs in terms of content or organization.

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
My 2 cents worth is that the forum, as it is now, is fine. Sometimes, less is more, KISS principle. If you were going to offer any kind of third party content, my personal suggestion would be something like PPC's specialized industry products [eg. Physicians and other health care providers, contractors etc., or their general book on specialized businesses]. The reason I say this is that people should have their own basic tax library to do the returns. For instance, a person might say: I know how to do an 1120S, but what additional issues might I look for in a doctors practice, a contracting business etc. Again, this is just my 2 cents.

StefCPA (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
If I may say, I do feel one major thing could be added:

I feel like there is nowhere where you can actually see how to report something on the tax return. We could add a section on how to put it on the tax return: like for example I have a very specific situation, how do I report it on the tax return? we would have a forum, and we could include 1040 forms, and show ways to put it or on writing....

It would be of great help to many people.

For example, in this forum, we would talk how different taxpayers report capital gain in excess of basis, or other situations

Let me know if you think that's a good idea

StefCPA

Actionbsns (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
I agree with Kevin that a lot of us, myself included, need to know how to do real research better and more effectively. I recently had a client going through a messy divorce and a lot of people here were really helpful to me in directing me where I needed to be. The problem for me is that I don't really know how to do that kind of research myself. They referred me to tax court cases as well as the tax regs. I find TA to be immensely helpful to me in such a situation. It's kind of like being part of a large firm where you can pick the brains of the more experienced partners. But in the end, we should have the skills to do our own research and we should be learning from the experienced partners, as we would in such a practice.

I've really been enjoying some of the various discussions that have been going on in the last few weeks. Someone even started a hypothetical situation that has led to an enlightening discussion on an issue I wouldn't have even thought of unless I were presented with it. That type of thing is way more effective than all the CPE's you can pay for. Other things that are helpful is just knowing how others handle their business practices, what softwares they use, what research material they use (and that I'm not the only one who is too cheap to spend $1,000 on it). I don't see how that can be organized particularly and I think we just need to encourage people to use the research button provided. In addition, when we see that a thread has had a lot of posts, we need to give it a chance, realizing that someone has researched an issue and now has something new to address as it is brought forward for another look. Sometimes I think people start a new thread because they think that with all those posts, they are beating a dead horse, the discussion has run its course, and no one will want to return to the issue.

Requiring everyone to complete their profiles may preclude some of the lay population questions, but possibly there can be something attached to TurboTax for them.

Will (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
"What does TaxAlmanac need in order to meet more or all of your research needs?"

I use two products for general research, Tax Book for quick answers and RIA Tax Coordinator for complete answers. To meet all of my needs you would have to combine those two products in an online format. Would not need to provide editorial content with the code/regs, but have all referred sections and associated regs hyperlinked is a must.

If TA's goal is to provide free research sources for practitioners down market from the professional research services, you could do a lot worse than creating an online version of TB/QF (Topical Index Driven Research). Even just the wiki template of one that users add too.

Also, the main page of TA is very busy. Imo, the main page of TA should in a very overt way draw people into utilizing the reaserch tools and a topical index. In my mind it would have tabs of topical headings hyperlinked to sub discussion right there in the left hand green tab.

The search function lacks polish imo as well, there doesn't seem to be a relevancy weighting to the results. (I could be way off base on that, could also be user error). It has taken practice and hints from other users to make searching worthwhile. A one time random user is more than likely not going to get the results they want right out of the gate. Which leads them to a forum, the quickest and easiest way to extract information from the resources gathered here, humm...

Also consider moving the search box to top center like google and adding a direct link from page one to advanced search options right under the search box.

My 2 cents.

Will

P.S. - I like Crow's idea also, that kind of content would be welcomed.

P.S.S - Still love the site, I am glad intuit is putting their resources into it.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 19, 2007
If the search box was at the top, Kevin couldn't keep pointing at it.

Hmmm, maybe that's not such a bad idea!

Will (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
I was talking about the search box being at the top on just the main page, kevin would still have to point it out in the forum lol

BethAZ (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
The forum is just one section of this website. As Kevin and others pointed out, the forum is just to give/get direction, advice, opinions, moral support, etc.

I agree with Crow about the forum and Will about the search feature. Would rather not see the lurkers locked out.

Links to SSARS, MSSPs, and other acronynms would be nice. It would also be swell to be able to have free access to CCH and PPC products $).

Cmt56ss (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
I'm fairly new to the site, and new to the profession as my bio suggests. I have read hundreds of the discussion boards here and find them immensely helpful. I must say I tend to find some discussions annoying because they do seem to be from non-professionals looking for immediate answers to questions without having to pay a local professional.

I would suggest the creation of a section dedicated to the "true professionals" and allow everyone to view the threads, but NOT post there until they have reached a certain threshold (whatever that may be, maybe a post count, or a predetermined amount of time as a member, etc). Or, do not allow people to create a post, which would certainly cut down on the amount of free advice given out by true professionals to the general public. I think people should still be allowed to post in a "general tax forum" where new users can go to ask questions, I know as a new user I have started two, maybe three, threads that I did not think were out of line with the main focus here.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
Maybe when you open the site, you should come upon TalAlamac.org's TAXOPEDIA. What Will says above is quite true, the opening page is busy, so that most people seem to gravitate to the ask a question section. One idea would be for the Topical Index to be more than links to numbered pages.....an alphabetical general index [e.g,, Aaa-Bar, Page 1].

Kevin, since most of us don't give speeches at seminars where we have our notes, I am curious about the other types of research we should do besides BNA, RIA etc. I do consult course books I've received at seminars, and use Google and others, and I have collections of relevant cases that I print out plus old magazines and the like.....so what am I omitting?

Smktax (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
It would be nice if the tax discussion forum page (http://www.taxalmanac.org/index.php/Discussion_Forum_-_Tax_Questions) had links to the code and regulations.

GeoEA1065 (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
I find reading some of the more interesting discussions an interesting way to take a break and learn something at the same time. I would suggest that a more prominent FAQ area combined with some easy "how to" articles geared toward non professionals and inexperienced preparers might work to take away some of the redundant traffic from the discussion board. I would also think that more links to other sites with tax and accounting news would work also.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
DT - what I was implying is that the research material should be linked to the authorities - just like Smktax wrote. So in a good textbook (most are not that good) the discussion will also cite the code. Obviously BNA/CCH/RIA do this too, but does anyone ever go look at the code and regs and tax court cases? Well, a lot of people here do (you are one to read a tax court case, so yes, you do).

The rest of the people rely on Quickfinder or such and call that "research". Not very authoritative, but if all they want is a quick answer, it does the trick.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
Actually, I try to begin my research in Checkpoint with the code or Regulations....it took me a long time to move away from paper sources but when I see links from code to regs to editorial comment I find that so beneficial. I think the term reviewers use is 'drill down.' What I used to love about the old CCH, RIA binders was finding things that were not on the horizon when searching....your eye catches something that you were not looking for, and maybe it answers some other question that has been bothersome.

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

19 September 2007
I'll admit - I'm REALLY weak in the research area. I have CFS Tax Research disc (sent quarterly), and either a CCH or RIA tax handbook, and last year (just to try it) bought The Tax Book. I also could use training on being able to do sophisticated representation.

However, one board cannot be everything to every user. There are limited resources the board can provide. You all know the way I feel about non tax professionals using this board. I've gotten severely chastised in the past for my response to outsiders looking to this board to do their accounting/tax homework or be their problem solver (and very rarely tell us the whole story unless they're pressured). I DO AGREE with a FOR PRO'S ONLY section - even if it requires a mandatory profile, but since it's not required now I'm not agreeable to disclosing.

What I do think we could use is a directory of each others' tax specialties - so we could pick each others' brain. I'm a former state sales tax auditor. I also am familiar with tax exempt organizations, and I've successfully completed a few Form 1023 applications. I'm sure each person using this board has a special skill at something that others don't.

I do agree with BethAZ regarding being able to link to SSARS, MSSPs and other useful aids.

But I also have a question for Tim. This isn't the first time since I've been on this board that you've asked for suggestions but haven't materially changed the workings of this board. Why not? Yes - changes HAVE BEEN made - but not sufficient to notice a real difference in the operation of usage.

PVVCPA (talk|edits) said:

September 20, 2007
Sorry, Tim. But if I need to do research I am going to use my PPC CDs or my CCH Essentials subscription. The search features on these tools are quite extensive and I have invested much time into figuring out how they work.

I agree with Keeping It Simple. The discussion forums are quite addicting and a great place to bounce ideas or problems off of other professionals. It is also a great place to vent. For me, this enough to make TA one of my most popular bookmarks.

I do like the idea of allowing read-only access to new members or for members that haven't gone through a simple little webinar that shows them how to do a Search.

JAD (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Agree with Paul. Keep it Simple.

And I'm concerned re your desire to compete w/ CCH and PPC etc. (That is what you meant by your comment re knocking RIA and CCH out of business, isn't it?) I assume because of the little icon in the Lacerte program that TA is Lacerte/Intuit? Which is clearly doing its best to charge its users as much as it possibly can, as demonstrated by what I've heard (on this website) as 15% increases in fees, and as an REP user, that appalling new $300 (or $395) licensing fee...even after the abysmal end to the most recent filing season. If you are hearing frustration, please know that it is not with you, it is with Lacerte and the many changes I have witnessed since the purchase by Intuit. I will spare you my many complaints.

Anyway, because of my experience with Lacerte, and what I assume is TA's relationship with Lacerte, your question to me sounds like corporate bearing down on you to come up with something to sell, rather than leaving this as a casual resource for practitioners to share ideas. I hope I am wrong.

Dennis (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Cruel, Jessica. Wicki format is all about community, and JR's post points the way. Tim needs to clean up the code and regs (many sections are virtually unreadable and some are out of date) but most of what is needed is up to us. Wickipedia manages to compete reasonably well with the Britannica. The internet as a whole competes reasonably well with RIA and CCH. If you know how to search you can find professional articles on topics that the "big" services devote maybe a paragraph. Personally I no longer have to update my law books because New York has it all on line.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
"The internet as a whole competes reasonably well with RIA and CCH." But, Dennis, those in power only accept authority banded by RIA or CCH.....by those in power I'm not referring to Intuit but rather IRS, or am I wrong? Maybe at estate and trust level, the auditors are more willing to read something found on the web, but at income tax level they want to see it in the Big Two.

Dennis (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
I think you're wrong. I should hope you have bookmarked the Andrew Mitchell Tax Charts As for my field AICPA on Estates and Trustsis a nice basic reference that beats anything I've seen from CCH or RIA. The list is not only endless; it is growing. State CPA jounals...convention presentations...all the taxprofs who actually need to publish. The "big guys" cannot compete with this. They don't have the space.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Dennis, do you know the date of the AICPA report by Patterson & Patterson that you linked above? It looks like it was a part of a larger class text, based on the page numbering, or is that some sort of filing system code like the Dewey Decimal System?

Dennis (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Ah, the disadvantage of the internet. You do have to know what you are doing to use it and you are nuts to use it as the only source.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
glad to know I'm not the only one that can't figure out the answer

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
At any rate, it is not up to date, Dennis, as page 108-6 states that the extension for an estate is Form 2758 which is NOT automatic, and trusts request an extension on 8736 and both can use Form 8800 to request an additional 3 month extension.

So here is lesson #2 of the internet: make sure the information is current. The whole article is suspect if there is one obvious mistake.

Internet Lesson 3: Having an undated piece of reference material on a website may be poor service to your members, as they will surely rely on information that is no longer correct and attribute the mistake to the provider.

JAD (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Not intending to be cruel. Never intend to be cruel. But I felt compelled to state my concern.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
What I refer to when I say that auditors/agents have their CCH/RIA bias are sources like Wes' retirement Bible, Natalie Choate's book which has strong editorial content. Since the day it came into my office I have used it many times for my own purposes, and I know that I am talking about paper, not on-line, but I have doubts that a straight cite from 'Life and Death Planning' would satisfy an agent. Love to hear Wes' experience.

Dennis (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Speak for yourself, Kevin. I have a six foot bookshelf filled with past seminar and course material. If something gets completely out of date I pitch it. If something needs to be updated, I do that...generally with an article found on the internet (although often with photocopies of CCH/RIA/BNA text). The date of the AICPA seminar is not relevant. The point is the detail cannot be matched by the services, not that it can be dangerous in the hands of the completely ignorant.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
So Dennis, how does one ascertain whether the information is the most current and correct if they find it on the internet?

A lot of detail and a lot of hits/content are meaningless if the information is bad.

Dennis (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
I don't have the problem. Neither do I have a problem updating my seminar material. The internet, as any tool, requires knowledge to use. As far as what an agent will accept on audit...if it comes from Natalie Choate it isn't going to be questioned in the first place and the stuff I am talking about has specific code reference.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 20, 2007
Back to the point of Tim's question. I'm just going to ignore what's on the site and think...what works best here, and therefore should be capitalized on and encouraged? That's how we should assess our businesses, expanding what we do well, cutting loose everything else. So this discussion board has been the center of what is good, a clearinghouse where professionals, mostly, and the public from time to time, can come and hang out and bounce ideas off each other and learn from each other, and encourage each other. So focussing on this is key. Then, as we all describe places that we gather our info from, a page of resources and links that check out might be about all that's necessary. Links to IRS, the state sites, the one that Dennis mentioned above, CCH, RIA, BNA, etc., Pensco, Timcor, even the big investment houses' who have great info on retirement plans, etc. That kind of thing. The articles are ok, but I doubt that anyone reads them. So to me, two things: the forums, and lots of links are all that's necessary. Simple.

Actionbsns (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Nobody has mentioned Kleinrock as a research source. Any comments?

PVVCPA (talk|edits) said:

September 20, 2007
I vote for JR's ideas.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 20, 2007
And Kleinrock, almost went back to edit them in. I consider that, my opin only, to be the minimal acceptable level of research material. It's good, tho' not real deep, but it's a start.

Kprajna (talk|edits) said:

20 September 2007
Further above, I read some hesitation about allowing lurkers and the general public into the postins. Actually, I like it that the general public can ask questions. Sure, I can see that they are getting free advice. But for some of us with less experience, this also helps to learn about different case scenarios--and to understand the codes in lay terms.

In so far as lurking the site, again, I spent a long time browsing before deciding to log in. But I can tell you I have learned a lot from reading the various posts. Sometimes, I'll even ask for input from other accountants here at the office, after I have processed the postings made here. As a learning tool, this is practical and user friendly.

But yes, the search tool takes a bit of jiggling at first.

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Several people have mentioned locking out non-professionals from the forums, and several people have stated that they find these discussions informative. You can't please everyone, or can you??

What if we added some sort of method to mark discussions, and a way to filter your own personal view? Those who wanted to see them could, those who didn't could just skip them.

Any interest in something like this? Would it solve the needs of those who don't want to see novice questions?

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
TaxAlmanacT

The free online tax research resource and community for tax professionals.


What good is having the above noted at the top of the board if you're not going to stick to it?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
Tim, it isn't the novice we are interested in filtering, it is the "do-it-yourself" non-professional.

But you can't sort based only on who has a profile and who doesn't - some DIY'ers have profiles and some true pros don't (Riley2 always comes to mind, although Dennis Caro's profile is purely for the imagination - both contribute quite a bit and we wouldn't want them filtered out.) Also, we can't determine whether someone is a professional just because they have credentials - every week basic questions are asked by people with designations.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
Unless you made a profile MANDATORY and had check-the-box for CPA, EA, Atty, Tax Preparer, Financial Planner, Do-It-Yourselfer, Consumer/Taxpayer. Then you could filter out the DIYs and Consumer/Taxpayers

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Not all of us agree to filter them out, Kev. That's problem #1.

I like US's point...that mission statement still covers it, doesn't it? It doesn't say the research is here, merely the resources..i.e. the links to the answers...and commmunity. Exactly what I described. Keep to the original mission.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
Yes, JR, but in PREFERENCES, I could set mine up to say "Ignore discussions started by DIY'ers" and never see them. Those who want to answer their questions would leave the default view.

Dennis (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
I'm with JR. Focus on the research. (Losing the A-Z index to the articles was not the best idea and since for link purpose articles are a catchall there needs to be a way to sublink the index so that one link to all the revenue rulings, notices, etc appears rather than all appearing individually -- Lot of work there.)

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Excellent idea, Kevin. Ends the argument over that completely. Oh, Tim...I move that we implement a mandatory profile fill-in, with a category of non-professionals, which could be ignored by a user's preference settings.

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Dennis:

Can you elaborate on "losing the A-Z index" and "sublink the index" - I'd like to know more.

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
I've been working on a new User Page design. It may be possible for some of the information displayed there to come directly from information in the preferences, so that some of the user pages would already be filled out when users sign up. See Natalie's page for an example (doesn't include the auto-from-preferences stuff though).

If anyone else would like to beta text this new user page design, let me know.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
I like that page design, but it kind of forces disclosure that many folks will be uncomfortable with. You never know what might come back to bite you that you wrote here. Example, an IRS agent with time on his hands sees a number of posts from an accountant who does not believe that S corp owners need a salary. If he can figure out who that person is, voila, he just got a promotion over all the audits. So that would be my only concern, being allowed to retain some level of anonymity.

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
No one would be forced to enter any specific information - they are just suggestions. I am also open to suggestions about what the sections / questions should be.

Kathyt (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
Maybe instead of company name, have: Employee or Business Owner; something like that, and mabe "average number of returns prepared per year"

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
JR, you needn't worry about the IRS. You need to worry about the ASPCA and the HSUS - all those kittens will catch up with you eventually.

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
I agree with JR completely - that's why I REFUSE to profile until it's mandatory - and I'M NOT A GOVERNMENT AUDITOR

Kathyt (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
I like to see how much experience a person has, for some people the posts speak for themselves, like Riley2, he doesn't need a profile for me to know that he knows a lot more than me. But when I don't recognize someone's name it would be nice to click on the profile to see how many 1040's does this person do? How many 1120S's, if a person only does 2 1120's a year I might not put as much into the answer as a person who does 50 a year. Not that the number of returns means that a person is knowledgeable, but it gives a little bit more info as to a person's experience. Sometimes, during the heart of tax season, I really just want an answer when I can't think clearly anymore, or someone to confirm what I'm thinking, a second opinion. But if the second opinion is from someone who does 5 returns a year, I'd like to know.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
We're finally making some real progress. Time to quit talking and start implementing some of these changes.

PVVCPA (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
I vote for JR's ideas

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
You're starting to look like a groupie, Paul...don't be so obvious, ok?

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
If this board is going to insist on pros profiling, then I think that Natalie's format is the best - and have everyone use the same format to be consistent and uniform.

I do believe that there should be some stated ground rules that NOTHING on this board is a substitute for actual tax research for a thorough, complete, accurate answer to a specific tax question, and that the responders CAN'T be held liable for their response - where say, upon an audit - the questioner can use as a defense "I got the response from TA". TA, nor should individual responders, be responsible for the tax issues. It's the individual practitioner's job to properly service and advise clients.

I also feel that in the profile should be listed the licenses, state(s) of practice, titles, professional associations held by the profilee. KathyT is right.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
First hurdle, what to do with existing non-compliers who have evidenced expertise [aka Riley among others]. At first I thought of grandfathering those with awards, but I recalled Kevin mentioning once that Beatle Fred might qualified for something. Also why should bantering and jokes, which are part of responses, be part of someone's merit badge. So I ask Uncle Sam, who has told us in forums that he holds both CPA and EA, to give his opinion since he has a well-defined reason for not filling in the profile. What do we do when a valuable contributor does not fill in the profile.

Then, while I like the beta, it needs something which tells the reader:

1. How many returns a year do your prepare by rough numbers. Check one: [0-50, 51-200, 201-?] or The number of returns is immaterial, my practice is devoted more to accounting/bookkeeping.

2. More than half of these are [individual, partnerships/corporations, estates/trusts, payroll taxes.

3. I consider my speciality to be: [this can be optional]

ThinkTax (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
The "number" of returns could be misleading. To me, the "complexity" of returns prepared holds more value than the "number" of returns prepared. But then, "complexity" is rather subjective and difficult to measure.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Good point. As I recall, Dennis doesn't do very many any more, but I wouldn't want to do them! His expertise is muy deep. And Sandy doesn't yet either, but she's our usual go to on foreign stuff, her knowledge forged in hot fire. Quantity doesn't mean quality or understanding, or breath of knowledge. Quantity in fact, probably means some sort of mill, with non-business focus, more W2 earners who need to know if they deduct their cat. Dead or alive. I have a motion on the table to do Kevin's, which removes some of that quantitative stuff: CPA, EA, Atty, Accountant, Tax Preparer, Financial Planner, Do-It-Yourselfer, Consumer/Taxpayer. Then you could filter out the DIYs and Consumer/Taxpayers

BethAZ (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
Or the forum might have a segregated and private area, which should require the payment of a small fee for the pleasure of a more professional ambience. This would certainly weed out the unwashed and probably the ignorant. Any takers?

Basic (stupid) questions are asked and I have asked them - with my CPA designation flapping shamelessly in the breeze. Who consistently gives of his knowledge without ever prefacing it with a slap in the face? Jeff, the undesignated, does. So what does THAT matter? I am starting a JR1 fan club, by the way. With a buxom cheerleading squad. Calling them "The TaTaTaxettes".

D&T has a point about the merit badges, which are not useful for anything I can ascertain except that one has a lot of spare time. I applaud Riley and others who choose to "walk the walk" and are so secure in their expertise that they don't need to shout out their "letters" or explain their resume. They are generous and come here only to give, and they do it kindly and competently.

I do like Natalie's beta page, but feel it will make no difference. For those who prefer not to sully their eyesight with a painful glance at the queries of the unwashed and of the ignorant, you might consider other forums specifically geared to designated tax professionals, mostly CPAs (gasp), that are boring and intimidating. I imagine they would like to keep the riffraff out. And that could mean YOU (hahaha).

CrowJD (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
I was negligent in not using all the Forums that we have. The Chat and Accounting Forums, particularly the Chat Forum, could be used more often than they presently are. I don't find the DIY's a problem. I could see how they could be a serious problem during tax season. As for weak practitioners, I am probably one of them. I know I'm very uneven in my knowledge. I respect those who have the mental and physical stamina to make a good portion of their yearly earnings before May 1 each year. However, I do more returns, and advise on more tax matters than most lawyers do. I also refer a ton of work to other practitioners when I know I'm out of my league. I certainly spend a whole lot on tax materials, CPE, tax CLE; and I belong to NSA. Also, even though some practitioners are "boot-strapping" others here, a mild chastisement to a practitioner can serve to spur them to work harder, and this results in a better profession overall. (There was a glaring lack of knowledge by a CPA on an S. Corp. matter recently, and I bet "they" went away with some religion.) If I get the same chastisement, it does not offend me at all, to the contrary. I guess this is my 5 cents this time.

Death&Taxes (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
My point about number of returns is useless without giving the person a place to describe any speciality they might have: if someone who does 75 returns specializes in estates & trusts this explains all. But if someone does 300 returns and asks some of the questions I have read, I would have to wonder.

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
I've been reading through all of the great ideas that everyone has mentioned in this discussion, and I think they'll keep me busy for a while!

There are things that I can do on my own within the wiki software using templates, etc., and there are things that require engineering changes. The things that I can do myself can happen very quickly, but anything requiring engineers to get involved might take a while (for some reason, they're all working on some other tax product...)

I have an idea which I believe I should be able to implement fairly quickly, but I want to make sure that it would meet your needs before I test the changes.

Imagine that all of the questions in the Tax Questions forum are marked as either "simple" or "hard". Now the exact names we use could be anything - "beginner" & "advanced", "end-user" & "professional", etc. We'd have to think through exactly what we wanted the differentiation to be. Because each discussion was marked as one or the other, I could allow each person to view just the simple questions, just the hard questions, or all of the questions. A link at the top of the forum would allow you to switch views at any time. Now this wouldn't be based on a profile or preference (changes to make that happen would require engineers), but instead, when a question was initially asked, the person asking it would pick one or the other. Also, any user could move a discussion from one to the other with a simple edit, allowing the community to make "corrections".

Note that this works for two groupings, but really wouldn't work well for more than that (beginner, intermediate, and advanced, for example).


Thoughts?

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
BeatleFred thought his question was quite simple.

Discussion:* House Buyout *

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
I don't know Tim. I have simple questions that I wouldn't want to be filtered out. For example, "how would you handle ______ situation?"

As far as the profile goes, I like the set up. As others have mentioned, however, some people may not want to disclose some of the details.

Kevinh5 (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
Why not: "Question from a Tax Professional" and "Question from a Consumer/Taxpayer" as the switch?

That is more the issue than "easy" / "hard"

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
As I said, it wouldn't matter what we called the categories... we would just need to figure that out before we implemented this solution. One issue does come to mind though. TaxAlmanac *is* for tax preparation professionals. I'd prefer not spend the time and resources to lock it down, as some have said that they do find value in their questions, and I think we could use the engineering resources to do better things than this. That being said, I would like to strongly encourage questions to be from professionals, and direct consumers elsewhere. If we created a distinct category just for consumer questions, I fear we'd be inviting more of them. If we can create categories that can apply to preparers as well, that would be better in my opinion.

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
DIFFICULT Question from Tax Professional -

Why is it that no matter what's been offered in the way of suggestions, the Webmaster simply avoids committing himself into making this board strictly for professionals? If you wish to invite outsiders in, then change the premise of this board and delete the opening disclaimer, change the Code of Conduct rules, and make it a free for all where you don't distinguish pros from nonpros so it can be a general public board. That way none of us professionals would have a beef. But continuously beating around the bush, changing the terms and conditions and suggestions offered is quite annoying?

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Thank you Uncle Sam! Was wondering the same thing...No offense, Tim, but where did THOSE ideas come from? I don't recall seeing them mentioned....I don't want to restrict the board as you all know, but I do thing the suggestions made today would make significant headway towards make everyone happier and our mission clearer. If it's hard to do, just so and we'll wait before making the next round of hard suggestions. That might sound angry, it isn't...

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Uncle Sam:

The focus of TaxAlmanac has always been for tax professionals to help other tax professionals - TaxAlmanac does not exist to serve non-professionals. That being said, there have been several discussions over the last two years regarding this topic. While many agree with the point of view that we should lock the site down, there are others that disagree. They have stated they they enjoy answering the "easier" questions, they learn from the answers that others offer, and in a couple of cases have even picked up a client from interacting here.

I haven't committed myself to locking down TaxAlmanac to professionals only for two reasons - 1) the community isn't in agreement, and 2) it would require the allocation of engineering time (that could be used elsewhere) to install a system that would be easily gotten around.

I'm sorry you've seen my creative thinking and open discussions on this issue as "beating around the bush." That wasn't my intention at all.

- Tim Doyle, TaxAlmanac Moderator - Talk to me 16:11, 21 September 2007 (CDT)

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
JR1:

Perhaps I'm not following along closely enough here. You said "where did THOSE ideas come from?" What ideas are you referring to? Help me out here - I'm really not trying to be difficult.

PVVCPA (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Rename the Tax Questions forum to Tax Professionals forum. Add a new forum named Do-It-Yourselfers forum (or something better). Give every user (or just certain users) the rights to move threads off the Tax Professionals forum to the DIY forum.

Get rid of all those unused forums. I can see just have the following 5 forums:

  • Tax Professionals Only
  • Do-It-Yourselfers
  • Accounting & Business
  • Feedback
  • Test Area

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
"I haven't committed myself to locking down TaxAlmanac to professionals only for two reasons - 1) the community isn't in agreement, and 2) it would require the allocation of engineering time (that could be used elsewhere) to install a system that would be easily gotten around."

Finally-you've admitted to something. Why waste our time with these suggestions, thoughts and ideas if you had no intention from the beginning on implementing them?

Either TA is going to exist only for professionals or it isn't. Make up your mind.

But don't keep us in the lurch of claiming it's only for pros when it isn't so.

Sea-tax (talk|edits) said:

21 September 2007
I would be all for only letting Intuit product users/customers post and read on this site. It is infact those that buy TT, QB, Lacerte and Proseries, that provide the income revenue to allow intuit to provide this board.

How about that?

I just don't get what all the hubbub is about.I participate on a couple of forums and they never have these type of discussions. I find them just as useful as this. Tim I personally appreciate what you do and think you should keep up the good work.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
I was responding to: "I have an idea which I believe I should be able to implement fairly quickly, but I want to make sure that it would meet your needs before I test the changes.

Imagine that all of the questions in the Tax Questions forum are marked as either "simple" or "hard". Now the exact names we use could be anything - "beginner" & "advanced", "end-user" & "professional", etc. We'd have to think through exactly what we wanted the differentiation to be. Because each discussion was marked as one or the other, I could allow each person to view just the simple questions, just the hard questions, or all of the questions. A link at the top of the forum would allow you to switch views at any time. Now this wouldn't be based on a profile or preference (changes to make that happen would require engineers), but instead, when a question was initially asked, the person asking it would pick one or the other. Also, any user could move a discussion from one to the other with a simple edit, allowing the community to make "corrections".

Note that this works for two groupings, but really wouldn't work well for more than that (beginner, intermediate, and advanced, for example)."

That's not what anyone has talked about. What we seem to be able to accomplish tho', is as Kevin suggested above to require profiles from here on out, establish some designations that folks could check, including DIY and Consumer/Taxpayer with preferences to include or ignore any of the designations by the user. So those of us who don't mind the amateurs can talk with them, and those who cannot stand them need not be bothered. And in tax season, I might hit ignore on a whole bunch of folks! Tell us whether this is doable or not.

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
I think we're confusing two different things here, Uncle Sam. "Locking Down" and "Filtering" are two different but related solutions to the problems that I have heard people mention regarding what discussions they do and don't want to see. Locking Down is something that we can do, but it'll take additional resources beyond just myself, and before we do that, I need to make sure the community is in agreement. "Filtering" is what I was proposing, and is something that I can do. Your statement about wasting your time with no intention of implementing my suggestions is not the case at all.

JR1 (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Do not lock down. Many of us are against it. Filtering is what we/they need...so can we do that easily?

Tdoyle (talk|edits) said:

September 21, 2007
Yes, I believe we can JR1, but I am going to have to experiment a little this weekend to make sure that my plan doesn't break anything. I think I can make it all work just by changing a few templates.

Natalie (talk|edits) said:

September 22, 2007
I like Paul's idea, although I think the filtering might work as well. FYI Paul, it is really very easy to move a discussion from one forum to another. I've done it a number of times.

Uncle Sam (talk|edits) said:

23 September 2007
TaxAlmanac

The free online tax research resource and community for tax professionals.

Tim-If you're looking to "Filter" the non pro section of the board - then don't you think it's wise to change the above logo? You can't have it both ways.

I never proposed "Locking" non pros out - just segregate their questions so that those interested in learning from them can do so, and those that don't can go directly into the "For Pros Only" section. I recognize that it's possible for those that respond to those people can POSSIBLY get client leads, so it's not all for naught. As Natalie said it's not hard to do. But I still can't figure out why you've been reluctant up until now, until you've been pressured, to actually come out with a statement as to your intent - but had us provide a number of suggestions (all constructive ones)-then you've changed the suggestion terms bringing in new thoughts each time without addressing the ideas that HAVE been suggested - and came up short of actually claiming that to do so was an "engineering headache" for you.

DZCPA (talk|edits) said:

23 September 2007
I guess most of us click "all forums" so all this does not matter. I might be wrong. Leave it all alone.

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